This is too much work!
This is the last time
I’m doing this!
as she served us
a gorgeous Christmas dinner.
I was four years old.
I felt really sad,
wondering what future Christmases would be like
without Mom-Mom and her dinner.
Imagine my surprise when
the following year, like every other year before it,
she served us a beautiful Christmas dinner.
Today’s prompt references Joe Brainard’s I Remember. We were invited to list a series of memories, being concrete, using these details as the “connective tissue” of the poem. I’m tired. I remember being tired a lot. I’m not sure how this will go, but who ever is really sure? Who is in control?
I remember being born.
My twin sister waited while I went first.
Upon exiting my mother’s womb,
I was promptly set aside
because I was fine
and the spotlight was on my sister’s predicament–
breech, slowed progress,
doctor wanted to get the forceps,
my mother said, “HELL NO!”
and pushed her out.
She was blue.
They hustled around her,
making sure she was breathing.
I was cold and sad, crying,
I wanted to go back to the warm place.
I felt alone.
This is how I remember my birth.
To this day, this drama plays out
in our adult lives.
I am always fine,
and the spotlight is always on her predicament,
her struggling while everyone watches
as she gets pushed to the next stage.
Will it always be this way?
Can we be reborn where we are both fine?
Hmmm. Today’s prompt invites us to go back in time and remember the sounds of home–particular sayings that we no longer hear, sounds that made up our home environment back in the day…Right off the top of my head I can remember a few expressions that strike me as pretty funny now.
Things my dad said: (notice lots of expressions involving Hell):
It’s hotter’n the hinges of hell in here. (Said if we let the wood stove burn too hot)
He took off like a bat outta hell. (Often used in reference to drivers on the road)
There’s about a snowball’s chance in hell that…(______ will happen)
Beats the hell outta me! (used in lieu of “I don’t know.” )
Jesus William H. Christ! Said when annoyed and frustrated and unpleasantly surprised.
You’re an accident looking for a place to happen. (Said if we put our cup too close to the edge of the table)
Aw, horseshit (insert someone’s name here). Used to express incredulity.
I don’t give a rat’s ass about_________ (Talking about some situation that he didn’t think was important).
A funny thing Gram (Mom’s mom) said: If your father sees this, he’ll have a shit hemorrhage. (Talking about a mess my sisters and I made.)
As you can see, these expressions tend toward the vulgar side of the English language, which is really funny to me now, because both my dad and my grandmother were highly educated, articulate, intelligent people–so they had access to a much richer and more varied language than they ended up using in daily conversation. I wonder where my dad got all those expressions. Not sure where the poem is in the expressions, but recalling them stirred up some feelings of tenderness toward my father. So maybe I’ll write about that.
You were always so gruff with your words.
Were you afraid of what you’d feel
if you didn’t use them to build a wall between us?
I know you cared about us,
so why would you say, “That’s nice,”
when we told you that we loved you?
Of course we were messy–
we were little kids.
Why would our messes upset you so?
Were you not allowed to be messy
when you were a little boy?
Did someone tell you
that you were an accident waiting to happen?
I wish I could get closer to you Dad
while you still walk this earth.
But the little girl in me
doesn’t know if she can bear your prickly words.
She isn’t sure that you give a rat’s ass about her feelings.
She thinks that there’s about a snowball’s chance in hell
of you understanding her.
I come back to this place again and again
in my dreams, the dreams I hold in my heart.
Green grass mown by munching goats and sheep
their bells sounding a right racket as they amble along
tracks they’ve worn into the mountain meadow.
I look up and see a crystalline blue sky.
I look out from where I’m sitting and see
more mountains than I can count and the city
where I left my heart nestled in the valley below.
I take off my shoes and dip my toes into the ice cold water
of the stream that has gathered momentum
from its origins in the valley behind me.
A bit of emmental cheese, a bit of dark chocolate,
a hunk of baguette, a sip of water
and now my hands are drumming this drum
I lugged with me from the valley below.
The breath of summer and the scent of wildflowers
caress my soul as the wind whispers through the conifers.
I have endured such heartbreak.